- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2000

Cuba continues to wait for the return of Elian Gonzalez

Ronald D. Rotunda ignores one of the basic principles of the family, the right to parental authority over children ("Presidential pardon for Elian?" Commentary, Dec. 28).

It is not understandable that at this time there is someone questioning of the immediate return of Elian Gonzalez to his father, who was interviewed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and has filed as many documents as required by such authorities.

Elian's case is a very sad one. While his father and four grandparents are suffering daily in Cuba because their child has been kidnapped in the United States, a renowned group of unscrupulous persons in Miami insists on taking the child away from his father's love by using legal procedures.

Ask yourselves if the delay of Elian's return to his father would have been the case of a child from Central America, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Latin America, the Caribbean or the developing world. If it were the case, the U.S. government would not have hesitated for a second and would not have lacked the political will to solve the problem immediately. Neither would it have to think of applying any Cuban Adjustment Act or shower the child with high-tech toys or visits to Disney World.

Cuba is not looking for a confrontation with the United States. It does not want to humiliate anybody. It is not looking for any political advantages by solving this problem. The Cuban people will know how to wait for the only possible fair solution to this case, which is Elian's return to his father in Cuba. We will stand firm, however, on our fair claim until it comes true.

LUIS FERNANDEZ

Press secretary

Cuban Interests Section

Washington

Review of musical at Kennedy Center hits a sour note

Jayne Blanchard's review of the musical "Martin Guerre" amazed me ("Musical bombast helps 'Guerre' implode," Arts, Jan. 8). I have been a theater buff for 50 years, and for nearly half of that time, I have been an usher at the Kennedy Center. This means I want its good productions to succeed. It also means I have a solid basis for theater criticism.

I enjoyed the musical, and I was not alone. The audience gave a standing ovation. Your reviewer is correct; the cast members' voices are superb. My main disagreements with her review are caused by her apparent ignorance of history.

Yes, the show's costumes are mainly in shades of brown, authentic for the clothing of village peasants of the 16th century. Yes, there is much talk of rainfall by the subsistence farmers. The appearance of a mysterious man in the village was believed to be related to a coincidental dramatic change in the weather. History tells us it was a time of ignorance and superstition.

To call the conflict between Catholics and Protestants a "subplot" is like saying the Napoleonic Wars were a subplot of "War and Peace," or America's Civil War and Reconstruction were a subplot of "Gone With the Wind." Instead, they were the big things going on at the time. Religious wars and persecutions were the big things in 16th-century France. I hope your reviewer will bone up on that era before returning to see "Martin Guerre."

If the reviewer listens carefully to the first conversation between Arnaud and Bertrande, she will learn that Bertrande did not "buy his story." He is trapped into deceiving the other villagers by their own insistence (unlike the movie, "Sommersby," in which the man comes intending to deceive, a difference your reviewer seems to have missed).

The review did not discuss what the musical is about the evils of religious intolerance, ignorance, superstition and the wonder and importance of true friendship and love. The reviewer should see it again.

EARLYNN V. GRANT

Falls Church

Why some attacks on 'left-wing' NPR simply are not all right

Matt Chancey's diatribe against National Public Radio ("Public nuisance," Op-Ed, Jan. 7) represents the worst in emotional ranting while revealing the source of his insight into "know-nothing writer[s]." His abusive and abrasive argument boils down to a simplistic point: If he doesn't like what NPR broadcasts, it must be left wing.

One of NPR's flagship programs, "All Things Considered," often broadcasts reports in areas that don't particularly grip or compel me. More often than not, however, this and other NPR shows illuminate obscure and hidden parts of the American and world experience, leading me and thousands of other listeners at least momentarily to learn about and reflect on people and problems far removed from our daily lives. "All Things Considered" and other NPR news programs live up to that name.

NPR considers issues and individuals big and small all things, not just those with narrow appeal to either side of the political spectrum. During non-NPR hours, local public radio stations provide a wide range of the local-interest programming Mr. Chancey so craves.

Furthermore, Mr. Chancey's portrait of NPR programming as nothing but Marxist-infected obscurity is a carefully constructed caricature designed to mislead. Consider this sample of NPR stories from the day I write this letter: public schools and education standards, the contentious issue of water resources in Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations, capital punishment in Florida, trends in consumer electronics and the e-tailing strategy of Web giant Amazon.com. Geez, what a left-wing, biased waste of time and money.

It's clear that the real charitable organization in question isn't NPR, but The Washington Times for printing Mr. Chancey's second-rate personal fumings. Of course, if NPR troubles him so much, Mr. Chancey could take personal responsibility and simply change the station.

PETER RONAYNE

Charlottesville

Clinton administration high on international tribunals, low on sovereignty

Your Jan. 7 editorial "The United States on trial" raises sovereignty issues extending far beyond subjecting American troops to scrutiny by an international body. As President Clinton made painfully clear in his shameful, blameful hysteria following defeat of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by the Senate, this administration sees international tribunals as the judicial body of the future in regard to myriad American policies. This extends to all treaties, increasingly signed by the executive and thus providing U.S. "consent" on some level but not Senate ratification as the Constitution requires.

As Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright confirmed in an Oct. 18 letter to "Dear Messr[s]. Foreign Minister[s]" of the world, the current thinking of our State Department is that the United States will abide by "obligations as a signatory under international law," including not just treaties that have not been ratified, but even those soundly rejected by the Senate. What is the authority trumping our Constitution, according to our own State Department? It is Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, signed (but not ratified) by the United States. The article states that those countries that have consented on at least one level to a treaty must "refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of a treaty." The threat posed by that very provision is what prompted Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott to call for a vote on CTBT after the administration switched its demand from a vote to no vote.

This makes most noxious of all those treaties an administration signs but refuses to submit to the Senate for debate and a vote, such as the Kyoto Protocol on the theory of man-made "global warming." Demanding in our case emission (energy use) reductions of up to 40 percent by 2010, this treaty requires countries such as the United States, Lichtenstein and Iceland to make these cuts, but not trade competitors China, Mexico, India, South Korea or Brazil. Given the obvious Clinton-Gore goal of "Hague-creep," watch for international sanctions provided for under Kyoto should we wisely continue to refuse European-style energy taxes, elimination of numerous tax incentives such as depletion allowances and any other policy not deemed consistent with the energy-suppression "object and purpose" of that particular, misguided agreement.

CHRISTOPHER C. HORNER

Counsel

Cooler Heads Coalition

Washington

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